Zinc: Uses, Dosage, Foods, Supplements, Risks, and More

1 Answer
Maithili Potnis

Zinc is a trace mineral and our body needs a small amount of zinc to function properly. However, it is important as it heals wounds and keeps our immune system ready to fight threatening bacteria and viruses. Zinc is extremely crucial during pregnancy, infancy and childhood as it helps the body to make protein and DNA and supports growth and development in each of the life stages. Some studies also claim that zinc may slow the progression of macular degeneration when it is combined with other vitamins and antioxidants.

Our body can obtain zinc from the diet when we consume foods like chicken, red meat, fish and fortified breakfast cereals. The recommended daily amount of zinc for women is 8 milligrams and for adult men is 11 milligrams. Apart from its role in maintaining a healthy immune system and wound healing, zinc is required for blood clotting, proper thyroid functioning and maintaining vision.

In this article, let us learn about the benefits and food sources of zinc along with details about zinc supplements and dosages.

Zinc Dosage

Zinc cannot be stored in our body and hence, we need to get it daily through food or a supplement. If you are unable to consume zinc through the daily diet, you can consult your healthcare provider to find out which zinc supplement might be suitable for you.

The table given below presents the daily requirements of zinc in milligrams as per age and for different stages of pregnancy in women.

Age or Life Stage

Quantity in milligrams (mg)

0–6 months


7–12 months


1–3 years


4–8 years


9–13 years


14–18 years (boys)


14–18 years (girls)


Adult men


Adult women


Pregnant teens


Pregnant women


Breastfeeding teens


Breastfeeding women


Zinc deficiency may occur if you don't take enough zinc as per the recommended dietary allowance (RDA), if the body doesn't absorb zinc properly or if this trace mineral is lost through the gastrointestinal system.

Food Sources of Zinc

Zinc is essential for the proper growth and maintenance of our body. As our body cannot store excess zinc, it has to be consumed daily to avoid zinc deficiency.

Answer Image

Zinc can be easily consumed through foods like −

  • Meat

  • Seafood

  • Dairy products

  • Nuts

  • Legumes

  • Whole grains

  • Baked beans

Zinc deficiency may cause symptoms like slowed growth, low insulin levels, hair loss, dry skin, slow wound healing, poor sense of taste and smell, loss of appetite, irritability, nausea and diarrhoea. Hence, we must consume zinc regularly through our daily diet and with the help of the available natural food sources.

Uses of Zinc

Taking zinc through food sources or supplements can help you stay away from zinc deficiency. Studies have shown that zinc has many health benefits and is used in our bodies for performing many body functions.

  • Common cold − Zinc lozenges or syrup if taken within 24 hours after cold symptoms start, can shorten the lengths of colds, according to the Mayo Clinic.

  • Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) − Taking zinc orally or intravenous (IV) may lower the possibility of death in people affected with Covid-19. However, it may not speed up recovery from Covid-19.

  • Diabetes − Zinc may improve blood sugar levels and thereby help in controlling diabetes.

  • Depression − If zinc is taken along with antidepressants, it seems to help people suffering from depression. Also, it may be useful for people who don't respond to treatment with antidepressants alone.

  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) − In children, taking zinc orally along with medicine for ADHD might help reduce certain symptoms.

  • Vision loss − Age-related macular degeneration or AMD might be prevented with the combination of zinc and other antioxidant vitamins. This can also slow vision loss and prevent age-related vision loss.

  • Growth and development in premature infants − Giving zinc through the mouth to premature infants may help to increase their weight and height and thereby help in their growth and development.

  • Diarrhoea − Oral zinc supplements may reduce symptoms of diarrhoea in children.

  • Wound healing − Taking an adequate quantity of zinc can help people with skin ulcers in wound healing.

Zinc Supplements

Generally, people get enough zinc if they eat a healthy diet. Nevertheless, if someone has zinc deficiency or is at risk of developing one, taking zinc supplements can be a beneficial option. Most supplements available in the market may deliver the daily zinc quota but always consult your doctor to determine the correct dose and an ideal zinc supplement for you.

Many people may get confused between zinc supplements and zinc lozenges. Zinc supplements are for people with zinc deficiency, while zinc lozenges are often combined with vitamin C and are used as cold remedies. Zinc lozenges or nasal sprays containing zinc gluconate and zinc acetate may show antiviral effectiveness. Zinc supplements are capsules that can be swallowed whole, but zinc lozenges are like cough drops that dissolve in the mouth.

Zinc as a dietary supplement can be effective for people who wish to increase their overall immune system functioning. The potential benefits of zinc supplements include −

  • Treating zinc deficiency

  • Boosting immune function and fighting inflammation

  • Blood sugar management and insulin secretion

  • Fight acne

  • Improve heart health

Types of Zinc Supplements

The types of zinc supplements that you may find in the market are as follows −

  • Zinc gluconate − It is frequently used in cold remedies

  • Zinc acetate − Often added to cold lozenges and used to speed up recovery

  • Zinc sulphate − Helps to prevent zinc deficiency and reduce the severity of acne

  • Zinc citrate − It has a less bitter taste as compared to zinc gluconate

  • Zinc picolinate − Our body may absorb this faster than zinc gluconate and zinc citrate

  • Zinc orotate − It is bound to a compound called orotic acid

Zinc supplements are available in capsule, tablet and lozenge form, but taking them in excess may have some side effects.

Side-effects of Zinc

When taken as directed, zinc supplements can be an effective way to increase zinc intake. However, there are some side effects which you need to be aware of.

Consuming zinc more than the requirement may cause indigestion, diarrhoea, headache, nausea and vomiting. Additionally, when zinc is taken orally for a long time and in high dosage, it can cause copper deficiency which may cause certain neurological problems like numbness and weakness.

Using intranasal zinc can often cause loss of the sense of smell. Exceeding 40 milligrams per day of elemental zinc may result in symptoms like fever, coughing and fatigue.

Zinc can have negative interactions with other medicines. Zinc with a quinolone or tetracycline antibiotics may interfere with their ability to fight bacteria and minimize their effect. Also, taking zinc with penicillamine can reduce its ability to ease arthritis symptoms. Thiazide diuretics are blood pressure medicines which can increase the amount of zinc lost in the urine.


Zinc is an essential trace mineral that plays a pivotal role in maintaining our health. It is obtained through many natural food sources and should be consumed daily as our body does not store excess zinc. The supplements of elemental zinc may help but should not be exceeded the upper limit of 40 mg per day.

Related Questions
Top Writers